INDIAN ROCKS — Last season, Academy of the Holy Names and Indian Rocks Christian were in different situations. The Jaguars were loaded with seniors and advanced to the postseason. The Golden Eagles were young and took their lumps in a 14-12 season.
Those roles have reversed this season.
Indian Rocks Christian is the experienced team while AHN is trying to find some early-season chemistry with a young lineup. That was apparent Tuesday night during IRC’s 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 25-18 non-district win over the Jaguars.
IRC was able to fight its way back in the first two games, then finished off the Jaguars in the fourth game to improve to 3-1 in the early season. It is IRC’s third straight win prior to Thursday's match at Seffner Christian.
AHN (1-1) suffered its first loss of the season and will try to bounce back on Thursday against Brooks DeBartolo.
“I think our chemistry is a lot better than it was,’’ said senior outside hitter Reese Touma, who had eight kills. “It helps us mentally. We know how to talk to each other. Each player is different and we know how to handle each other. We’ve definitely improved from last year. We were head cases last year.’’ …Full Story
BRANDON — After rain fell from start to finish, and Wharton and Brandon slogged up and down the field for three hours, often fumbling (eight total, five lost) and committing a huge pile of penalties (47 combined) — Brandon lined up on Wharton’s 2-yard line with 10 seconds remaining and a chance to win with a touchdown.
Brandon charged into the line with a running play but was stuffed 1 yard short. The Eagles quickly lined up again but lost possession after a spiked ball on fourth down with one second remaining.
Ultimately, Wharton, after holding a 19-0 lead in the third quarter, held off a spirited Brandon comeback. …Full Story
TAMPA — The "Carrollwood Classic" between Chamberlain and Gaither was originally scheduled for this past Friday night and moved to a special Monday night football edition due to weather conditions. And though the rain came down again, the matchup didn't disappoint or scare away fans.
In a local affair that wet weather accompanied the entire game, turnovers and penalties were aplenty, but Chamberlain was able to come away with a 17-0 win at Ron Allen Field.
"We wanted to treat the second half like we were leading in 0-0," Chamberlain coach Jason Lane said. "We wanted to avoid the mental roller-coaster and focus on the task at hand and that's exactly what we did."
The Chiefs (1-0) struck first in the opening quarter, as senior running back Yahsin Wooten (six carries, 40 yards) tugged the sidelines and leaped into the end zone for a 28-yard score. Turnovers throughout the first half killed any kind of consistency offensively for the Cowboys, as Gaither (0-1) turned it over three times (two fumbles, one interception) and just could not get into any groove. …Full Story
TAMPA — The rain didn't stop and the Steinbrenner offense didn't get started until the last four minutes of the third quarter Monday night. A game filled with botched snaps and dropped passes was won in the second half thanks to a timely Steinbrenner turnover and red-zone execution by the Warriors offense. The Steinbrenner defense protected the lead and kept Freedom off the board for a shutout.
Play of the game: Steinbrenner defensive back Greyson Linnell intercepted a pass to give the offense the ball at the Freedom 13 in a 0-0 game.
Star of the game: Aidan Bitter scored three third-quarter touchdowns (two rushing, one passing).
Stat of the game: The defenses combined for 16 tackles for loss during the game.
Final word: "I told our guys, 'You just gotta keep pounding,' and things were going to break and our defense held their own all night and it's a testament to our defensive staff and what they did and our offense just kept pounding away." — Steibrenner coach Andres Perez-Reinaldo on the offense coming alive in the second halfFull Story
Monica Herndon | Times
Jermaine Eskridge (1), of Jefferson, leaves the game after breaking his arm in the third quarter of a preseason game against Newsome.
Jefferson receiver Jermaine Eskridge is out for the season after breaking his arm in last week’s 28-17 preseason win over Newsome.
The injury happened in the third quarter. At the time, Eskridge had two catches for 73 yards.
It is the arm Eskridge broke in the playoffs last year.
This is the second time the senior has missed an entire high school season. He had to sit out his sophomore year after transferring from Alonso to Jefferson.
The loss is a blow for the Dragons. Eskridge (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) is a three-star prospect with more than 50 offers from Division I-A schools. He has yet to make his commitment.
Jefferson does have other weapons in the passing game. Justin McGriff is a UCF commit and Dontavius Smith had four catches for 118 yards against the Wolves in the preseason.Full Story
WESLEY CHAPEL – When Jelani Vassell took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, it appeared the rout was on for Wesley Chapel.
It was one of the few highlights for the Wildcats in the first half.
The extra point following the kickoff return was blocked. On defense, Wesley Chapel had a lapse in pass coverage on a big touchdown. A snap sailed out of the end zone, resulting in a safety. And the offense was stopped twice on downs.
Despite those miscues, the Wildcats found a way to win, rallying from a 10-point second-quarter deficit to beat Land O’Lakes 33-16 in the preseason.
“We did a lot of things wrong; had a lot of penalties and we’re going to work our tails on getting things right this week,” Wesley Chapel coach Tony Egan said. “In the second half, we calmed down, stopped shooting ourselves in the foot and just went out and executed.”
For much of the first half, the Gators made plays. Ethan Forrester, a transfer from Tampa Catholic, hit Tylor Winn on a 90-yard touchdown to give Land O’Lakes a 7-6 lead.
After the safety, the Gators scored again on a 5-yard run by Kyle Leivas to make it 16-6. …Full Story
NEW PORT RICHEY – A lackluster performance for River Ridge nowadays is usually followed up by a stellar one.
After taking part in the "Clash 4 Clayton" scrimmage at Springstead High School last Saturday, in which the Royal Knights seemed exposed in a 16-6 one-quarter loss, River Ridge looked like a different team Thursday. The Royal Knights rushed out to a 28-7 lead and put on a solid showing in a 42-14 preseason win over Bushnell South Sumter.
River Ridge literally wasted no time, as junior DJ Mann returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for the game's first score. South Sumter had an answer for River Ridge, with fullback Cameron Hudson breaking through the middle of the Royal Knights' defense and sprinting 80 yards to tie the score at 7.
The quarterback battle between incumbent Devin Gallo and Mitchell transfer Kyle St. John materialized, as both signal callers had their moments throughout the contest. Gallo (1-of-3, 73 yards) tossed a 73-yard touchdown to Mikey Roussos with 6:32 left in the first quarter. Not to be outdone, St. John (6-of-6, 81 yards) hit Fivay transfer Bryce Smith on a 35-yard score later in the first. …Full Story
ST. PETERSBURG — Admiral Farragut and Dunedin are two teams in different situations. The Blue Jackets have several Division I-A-caliber players and have their sights set on a playoff berth. The Falcons haven’t won a game in more than two years and have fewer than 30 players on their roster.
Because of that both head coaches decided to play a controlled scrimmage in Thursday night’s preseason game. Each team’s offense would run 10 plays before switching to defense. Each team ran a total of 40 offensive plays and ended the night kicking three live field goals each.
“We both thought that was the best way to go," Blue Jackets coach Rick Kravitz said. “We’re not out here to embarrass anybody. Let both teams get some work in and get ready for next week. And everybody got to play, which is what this is all about."
While there was no score kept, Admiral Farragut clearly dominated on both sides. Khalan Tolson, who is committed to Illinois as an outside linebacker, showed he is also pretty good at running back. He broke two long runs, including a 50-yarder for a touchdown. Junior quarterback Kashish Cordova showed a strong arm and completed several deep passes. …Full Story
HUDSON – Without its projected starting quarterback Nathan Sims, the Eagles rotated in two capable signal callers on Thursday night, but it was the defense that led the way. Springstead set the tone for the upcoming season with a hard-fought victory.
Key drive: The more mobile of Springstead’s two backup QBs, junior Adrian Fribbley, was under center to start the game, and on the opening drive, the Eagles jumped in front. It was another newcomer, sophomore RB Anthony Alexis, that made the biggest play, breaking off a 62-yard run on a reverse. The extra point by Max Gabbard hit both the left upright and the crossbar but found a way to edge itself through to make it 7-0 in the first quarter. …Full Story
Tampa Bay Times
Ty Thompson is out for the season with a torn ACL
Plant running back Ty Thompson is out for the season after tearing his ACL during a scrimmage this past weekend.
“Ty’s foot was planted in the turf and his leg gave way awkwardly on the tackle,” Panthers coach Robert Weiner said. “It was nothing intentional. It’s just unfortunately one of those things that is part of the game.”
This is the second time in the past three years the Panthers have lost one of their premier skill players to a knee injury before the start of the season. In 2015, quarterback Rex Culpepper tore his ACL during USF’s Sling-n-Shoot tournament.
“Just because we’ve been through this kind of injury before make it any easier or prepare us any more for it at all,” Weiner said. “We’ll do what we have to do to be a good football team. But it goes beyond that, especially for a guy like Ty who has come so far.
“There’s sadness because he is not able to play Plant football his senior year, which is all he ever wanted to do.”
Thompson became the team’s main ball carrier last season and rushed for 827 yards and nine touchdowns. He has 14 offers from Division I-A schools, and Weiner said there will still be plenty of college opportunities available. …Full Story
SPRING HILL — Saturday’s officials scrimmage at Springstead High featuring 12 teams from Pasco and Hernando counties also doubled as a fund raiser. Springstead athletic director Dustin Kupcik renamed the scrimmage the “Clash 4 Clayton,’’ with proceeds going to aid former Hudson coach Rob Mahler’s 1-year-old son in his battle against Stage III pediatric cancer.
Kupcik said the final donation tally was $3,000, not including money earned from T-shirt and wristband sales as well as gifts given directly to Mahler.
“The crowd was steady throughout the day,” Kupcik said. “I feel like we had a great turnout. The donation buckets were overflowing. We got a $200 donation from the officials association. Our cheerleading coach gave $100. One of the other football teams gave $200. So it’s been coming in. It’s awesome.”
Dressed in a “Clayton’s Crew’’ T-shirt, Mahler attended the scrimmage without Clayton, who had just gone through a round of chemotherapy and was unable to attend. Mahler said Clayton is on his way to recovery but his immune system is still fragile. …Full Story
Tampa Bay Times
Plant City's Treshaun Ward transfers to Tampa Bay Tech
With preseason games less than two weeks away, Treshaun Ward was in his own personal limbo.
The former Plant City running back was scrambling to find a place to play. He wanted to attend Armwood since the spring, but his mother said the Hillsborough County school district denied a hardship waiver to go there.
On Tuesday, Ward found a home. He announced via Twitter that he is transferring to Tampa Bay Tech.
“This year I learned that throughout life when you’re doing well there will be haters and will do anything in their power for you to become unsuccessful or block wherever you are trying to go,” Ward said in his Twitter post.
Ward, who has offers from East Carolina and USF, among others, said he will start with the Titans on Wednesday.
His arrival gives Tampa Bay Tech another dynamic weapon in an already loaded offense. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., a Tennessee commit, returns. So does receiver Levi Jackson, who has an offer from Mercer.
Last season, Ward, ranked 22nd on the HomeTeam 100 list, rushed for 1,082 yards and 13 touchdowns.
So will Ward try to go to Armwood after this season?
“Nah, I’m staying at Tech,” he said. Full Story
Tampa Bay Times
Armwood's Malcolm Lamar is the fourth area player in the 2018 class to commit to Oregon
Armwood defensive lineman Malcolm Lamar indicated last month he would most likely wait until national signing day to make his college commitment.
On Friday, Lamar decided he could not wait any longer, announcing through a video on his Twitter page that he was committing to Oregon.
“I wanted to wait because I thought it was going to be hard to find a home to play in college,” Lamar said. “But I found that home in Oregon.”
Lamar, the No. 2 player in the Tampa Bay Times’ HomeTeam 100, picked the Ducks over an impressive list of SEC schools that included Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Tennessee.
His pledge continues Oregon’s run of landing top tier talent in the bay area. Former USF coach Willie Taggart, who took over this season, is using his Tampa Bay ties to his advantage. Besides Lamar, the Ducks also have commitments in the 2018 class from Armwood receiver Warren Thompson, Wesley Chapel athlete Isaiah Bolden and Tampa Bay Tech defensive lineman Jonathan King.
The local haul has helped Oregon vault to the No. 5 recruiting class in the country according to a composite ranking by 247Sports, putting them ahead of Florida and FSU. …Full Story
Scott Purks, Special to the Times
Latanna Stone won the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships by four strokes.
Cambridge Christian junior Latanna Stone finished the summer on a high note.
Stone won the Optimist International Junior Golf Championships girls 15-18 tournament on Wednesday at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens. Stone shot a 71-70-72-73—286 to finish on top of a field of 143 by four shots.
Also, former Cambridge teammate Ashley Zagers, who graduated this year, finished tied for fourth with a score of 296.
Stone was a Tampa Bay Times' all-area first-team selection as a sophomore. She finished tied for 10th with Zagers at the Class A girls state tournament last season with a two-round score of 148. Full Story